The Presidency on Tuesday said the transfer of power from the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to another democratically elected leader on May 29, 2023, remained sacrosanct.
This was in response to comments by a senior lawyer, Robert Clarke, who, in an interview with Arise TV on Monday, suggested that the President remains in office for six extra months to address insecurity.
The Presidency’s position was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘May 29 handover is sacrosanct, says the Presidency.’
“We wish to categorically restate that the President will step down on May 29, 2023, after serving two terms – as per the constitution,” Shehu declared.
He said while Clarke was correct on the need for the nation to be secured, Buhari will not extend his tenure.
The statement read in part “Having been the first recipient of a democratic transfer of power from an incumbent administration to an opposition candidate in Nigerian history, the President is committed to extending and entrenching democratic values across the country.
“He shall, in turn, hand the privilege of serving the people of Nigeria to whomever they choose through free, fair, and credible elections.
“However, Chief Clarke is right to say that without security, Nigeria would not likely realise its true potential as a peaceful and prosperous nation. That is why it has been at the core of this administration.
“The results are there for all to see. Boko Haram has been forced back from controlling the whole swathes of this country. Internally Displaced Persons are now returning to rebuild their communities. These achievements have been accomplished through the bravery and determination of the Nigerian armed forces and the fortitude of the people of our nation.”
The Presidency further noted that new challenges have arisen and tackled in turn – whether its the National Livestock Transformation Plan to alleviate herder-farmer clashes, the elimination of the leadership of ISWAP, or new efforts to combat banditry.
It said till the last day of the regime, the security of Nigerians shall remain its priority.
“We shall finish the job. Yet, in any case, respect for the constitution and Nigerians’ democratic rights remains the best path to securing and then maintaining peace,” Shehu noted.
Responding to earlier comments by a legal luminary, Afe Babalola, that elections should be suspended and the current regime be replaced by an interim administration, the Presidency said it would rather honour the people’s choice.
“He claims this is necessary to create a new constitution for the people, made possible, paradoxically, by ignoring their democratic rights. Down that path lies crisis and instability.
“Instead, this administration proposes something entirely simpler: honouring the constitution and people’s right to decide” the statement read.